Maharashtra Governor C H Vidyasagar Rao gave approval Thursday to the CBI to prosecute former chief minister Ashok Chavan in the Adarsh cooperative housing scandal.
The decision comes a week after the state council of ministers gave their consent to initiate the probe against Chavan in the case.
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Raj Bhawan sources said: “The Governor has given sanction to the CBI to prosecute Ashok Chavan.” In 2013, then Governor K Sankaranarayanan had denied permission to the CBI to prosecute Chavan.
In first remarks, Chavan called it a case of “political vindictiveness of the BJP government”.
“The CBI’s re-application to prosecute me in the Adarsh case is illegal. They are targeting me as I have been voicing my concerns and exposing government failure in the state and at the Centre,” he said.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis rejected Chavan’s allegation and defended the decision of his cabinet to give a go-ahead in the case, holding there was sufficient ground for it.
“The CBI said that after the last Governor rejected permission to prosecute Ashok Chavan, a new set of facts were discovered which clearly proves quid pro quo, that is, he gives permissions and his close relatives get flats. Thus, the CBI once again asked the Governor to permit it to prosecute Chavan,” Fadnavis told PTI.
A Lok Sabha member from Nanded and the state Congress president, Chavan had to step down as Chief Minister after the scandal in 2010. He was among 12 persons chargesheeted by the CBI in connection with the case.
He was chosen by Sonia Gandhi to lead the state Congress after the rout in the Lok Sabha and assembly elections.
The CBI alleged that Chavan suggested inclusion of civilian members in the Adarsh housing society, meant for war veterans and widows of defence personnel, to secure flats for his relatives in the complex situated at Colaba in south Mumbai.
The Adarsh Commission report stated that the allocation of flats to Seema Vinod Sharma, Vinod Sharma and Madanlal Sharma could not be pure coincidence. While Vinod Sharma is Chavan’s brother-in-law, Madanlal Sharma is his father-in-law.
The report has also objected to his decision as Revenue Minister in overlooking non-deduction of 15 per cent recreation ground while issuing additional floor space index to the multi-storeyed building in Colaba.
“The Adarsh CHS had never applied to the Ministry of Environment and Forests for Coastal Regulation Zone clearance through Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority,” the report stated. Environmental clearance was mandatory since the land on which the residential structure was built falls in the CRZ-11 category.
CBI spokesperson RK Gaur told The Indian Express Thursday: “We have got the sanction to prosecute and the same has been communicated to the trial court.”
However, trial in the case by the special CBI court in Mumbai will commence only when all petitions before the Supreme Court are heard and decided.
CBI sources said the Governor’s reply will be vetted by the legal department of the agency which will prepare its case, in case Chavan decides to contest the Governor’s decision.
“Chavan has the option of applying before the Supreme Court against the prosecution sanction granted by the incumbent Governor as the erstwhile Governor, K Sankaranarayanan, in 2013 had turned down the CBI’s proposal to prosecute Chavan,” CBI sources said.
The agency has cited the report of Justice Patil Commission of Enquiry as fresh evidence while appealing before the Governor to review its decision in October 2015.